Yup! It’s the season for quince again, apple’s ugly cousin (don’t say it too loud or it might get offended). Most variety of quince are too hard, astringent and yucky to be eaten raw and one in hand gives little hint of the sensuous texture it reveals when cooked, but once they’re gently poached in a simple syrup with vanilla and/or spices … Ahh!.. now that’s another story. Watch out ladies and gentlemen… It will bring out the devil in the kitchen.
- 2 large quince, peeled, cored, and each cut into 16 slices
- 1 cups sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- 1 whole clove
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- 3 cups water
- ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1-1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- ½ cup almond flour
- 1/3 cup cake flour
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ground cardamom
- 4 large egg whites (1/2 cup)
- ½ tsp grated orange zest
- Additional butter for greasing the pans
1. To prepare the quince, in a large saucepan, combine the quince and all the ingredients. Cut a round of parchment paper and lay it on top of the quince to keep the fruit submerged. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer until the quince is tender, about 1 hours. Let the quince cool in the poaching liquid. Drain the quince pieces on layers of paper towel. Discard the liquid.
2. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 400F. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Continue to let the butter cook until it turn a rich hazelnut brown. Strain the browned butter through a fine sieve into a clean bowl, discard the solids.
3. Sift together the confectioners’ sugar, almond flour, cake flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Place the sifted ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer with the whisk attachment. On the lowest speed, add the egg whites and orange zest and mix. Increase the speed to medium and beat until very smooth. Decrease the speed to low and stir in the browned butter, beat until smooth.
4. Butter a 10-inch tart pan or individual tart pans with a removable bottom or a springform pan. Pour in the batter and smooth the top. Arrange the quince slices on the batter.